4 Min. Gen. & Papa Francesco

Pope Francis received the General Ministers of the Franciscans in the Vatican

On 10 April 2017, Pope Francis received the four General Ministers of the Franciscan Orders in the Vatican: Michael Anthony Perry, OFM,  Mauro Johri, OFMCap., Marco Tasca, OFMConv. and Nicholas Edward
Polichnowski, TOR.

Fr. Michael spoke with Vatican Radio about the meeting with the Pope:

Q: How long did the meeting and what topics did you talk with Pope Francis?

R: The meeting lasted about 35 minutes. We  talked about the Pope’s visit to Egypt and the fact that soon we will celebrate 800 years after the visit of St. Francis to Damietta, Egypt, where Francis encountered the Sultan Malik al-Kamil, as a step toward the dialogue with Muslims. And we also talked about Aleppo: I made a visit to Syria and came back two days ago. I was in Aleppo, Damascus and Latakia, where I met the Friars Minor who remained there with the Christians. They all want to thank Pope Francis for his attention to their situation of crisis and also for the financial aid the  Pope has recently sent them. We already made a report that shows how the money was used for the well-being  of Christians and Muslims.

Q: What do you recall about  what the Pope expressed of the attacks against the Copts in Egypt or about the situation in Syria and Iraq, or the attacks in Europe?

R: The Pope  always calls for support and  prayer for all these devastating situations.

Q: What were the other topics?

R: We mainly talked about the steps we are taking to create a communion among us, among the several Orders of the Franciscan family. Pope Francis showed great interest.

Q: At what point is this path?

R: We are undertaking various projects now. First of all, there is the process of reunification of the Franciscan University in Rome, among the Friars Minor,  the Capuchin Friars, the Conventual Friars and the members of the TOR. We also have some other projects for the fraternity in the Holy Land and other places. We, the Ministers General, dedicate several times a
year in order to talk in order to strengthen and emphasize the dimension of communion among us. In addition, we talked about the importance of the possibility of allowing lay brothers to serve, with the role of Ordinary  in their respective Orders.

Q: On this point of the laity what it was said? What did the Pope express to you?

R: Pope Francis is searching with us to see the possibility to carry out this project.  We gave him a letter, as a formal request for a dispensation, a grace for us Franciscans.

Q: What does it mean for the laity?  What could be the role of a lay brother?

R: The lay brother could become the guardian of local fraternities, the provincial and even the  General Minister o  General Vicar. All the roles of service in the Order.

Source: Radio Vaticana (in Italian)